From Il Manifesto’s correspondent Argiris Panagopoulos
The Tsunami of fresh cuts will see the abolition of the thirteenth and fourteenth annual wage packets, a rise in the retirement age form 65 to 67 years, cut backs to pensions – lengthening the contribution period to get the minimum pension – cuts in benefits for the disabled and the sick, cuts to health benefits, cuts to unemployment benefit for workers temporaily laid off in the construction industry, in hotels and in other sectors, new cuts to spending on hospitals. Furthermore, an average 12% reduction in the salaries of soldiers, policemen and judges.
Meanwhile, the country is shocked by the absolute secrecy of the investigations into the illicit enrichment of at least 32 members of the governing parties through the purchase of property using €10.2 billion of laundered money. A scandal that has led to the temporary suspension from office of parliamentary speaker Evangelos Meimarakis.
The Minister of Finance, the ultra-liberal Stournaras, tried yesterday to respond to the alarming rumours in the German press that the package to ‘save’ the country was unsustainable, that the extension of the Troika’s plan for two years will cost between €13 and 15 billion that, according to the Stournaras’ secret plans, will be covered by the programme without additional loans.
Staikouras, his deputy, is betting, however, on slippage in the payment of Greek debt, while the Managing Director of the IMF, Christine Lagarde, has warned about the risk of a hole in the Samaras Government’s finances because of delays in the sale of the assets of the country and the implementation of the Memorandum. According to Lagarde there will need to be additional cuts, in addition to those already be taken Samaras, and an increase in government revenues.
But how you can increase government revenues in a country that has fallen into the worse recession in its history, this Christine Lagarde did not say.
In the center of Athens, one shop in three has lowered its shutters forever.
All unions in all sectors of the country are joining the protest against the heavy austerity plan imposed by the troika. And the director of the IMF Lagarde foresees yet more cuts.